Interview with author Jane Odiwe

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 I am thrilled to welcome author and artist Jane Odiwe as part of the Blog tour for her new book Project Darcy. Jane is also the author of Lydia Bennet’s story and Willoughby’s Return and has written two of my favorite Austen sequels … Continue reading

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Secret Daughter By Shilpi Somaya Gowda

  I was  in hospital for surgery last week, and as I expected to stay 3 nights, I took this book along with me to read; I mean really, other than for walking along the corridors, holding on to my over medicated pain ridden innards, and nodding a pleasant good morning or evening, to others who grimace out their own reply, what else was I going to do? so once I received my morning meds, I took out this book to read, feeling  better already that I could keep my head about me enough to do so. Um, not so easy once I got home… anyway.. It is beautifully written, profound in exotic ways as it captures that perfect mix of  joy borne out of tragedy, cross cultural clashes and an indomitable  love that crosses all boundaries.

Somer and Krishnan ( Kris for short), lead blissful newly wed lives in my favorite city of all time – San Francisco. Every place they mentioned including the UCSF campus brought me joy… Somer is a pediatrician, ready to take on the world until she has two miscarriages. That sense of helplessness one feels when one discovers an inability to have children, leaves her feeling less than whole and unable to function, as she deals with the consequences of not being able to give birth to her own child.  Going to a friend’s baby shower makes her insecure and inadequate as her personal tragedy begins to affect her life and relationship with Kris.

Meanwhile in the tiny village of Dahanu, India, Kavita and Jasu live conflicted lives. Kavita with the beautiful eyes is dealing with the consequences of giving birth to two girls in a row, when Jasu’s only hope – well, actually not just Jasu, for it is the hope of his entire family- is for that boy, a prince they call him, one who would be their pride and joy, one who would carry their name forever. Kavita tore my heart in as much for her sacrifices as for her very personal tragedy, I really did feel her pain, for as a mother I could not believe what she was made to endure. I felt personally attached to this being, and I commend the author for getting me so involved in this character. Jasu, you will find is not a bad man. He is misguided, gullible and uneducated. I wanted to shake him.

Kris and Somer somehow make it to India after this tragedy with the hope of adopting a baby. Somer is met with some very disapproving in-laws and a slew of  cultural rules of etiquette she knows nothing about as she continues to make mistakes that offend her mother-in-law, and Kris who has managed to keep his Indian family separate from his American wife and life, begins to regret that huge division.

I love the author’s subtle nuances of joy and sorrow. I love the strong female characters and how she brought out my own emotions. I praise the whole story about adoption and bringing to light the grief and joy of being a parent. I also loved that she lets you know in her own way – there is no difference in unconditional love whether your child is adopted or biological, once you are a parent, you will always be a parent.

I really recommend this book!

Cross Currents By John Shors

I am a bit biased when it comes to John Shors,  because he is just so nice, and has not once, but twice, taken the time to  reply my ramblingly  gushing e-mail about his works.  I have all of his books; they are little jewels I carry with me.  I confess I am drawn to his particularly beautiful writing, because they are about traditions close to my heart. I pre- ordered this book knowing the theme before hand, so you can imagine my anxiety… As those of you who know me are quite aware, my obsession with books, borders on the slightly insane. So when this book arrived, (of course I spent a sickening amount of time checking my mail box), I waited until I came back home from surgery to begin… I was unprepared for some horrid nausea amid searing pain, recovery really is a pain in the neck – quite literally. Still a set back or two wasn’t going to put me off…

I must say I loved every page of the book,  I sort of knew I would – from the beautiful hearts of the island dwellers at Ko Phi Phi, to the complexity of family loyalty, from the black and white depictions of flowing water within the pages of the book, to the stunning visual of crystal blue waters and endless stretches of pristine white sand.

The story telling begins at the ‘Rainbow resort on Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, Lek and Sarai owners of the resort are simple, kind and compassionate people. Their bungalows are not luxurious, their sheets not a 600 thread count silky soft sateen,  they can neither offer air conditioning nor gourmet meals, and when tourists flock to the island, the rainbow resort is not a place they usually consider. But they have “heart” and three gorgeous children, Suchin( a head strong intelligent daughter) Niran ( a son who wants to be a scientist) and Achara a darling baby with a mop of black hair. Although Lek is the head of the family, he is impeded by injury and a lack of resources.  he repairs, mends and together with his son and daughter walks to the boats daily to tempt tourists into trying out their resort and his wife’s food. Sarai is the strength of the family, she does everything; she cooks, cleans, nurses her baby and offers massages to their customers without taking a breather. All of this to keep their precious resort afloat. They have virtually nothing but the bare bones to offer and yet Sarai cooks with a flavor I could almost taste. Their food alone would make me visit them.

They take in an American man ‘Patch,’ who is as sweet as can be, sort of like a brother to Suchin and Niran who adore him. In return for his accommodation, Patch has offered to help them build up the resort with the hope that more tourists would find their simple hospitality attractive. Patch also hides a secret from his gracious and benevolent Thai friends, although they are aware he is running from something or someone. Into this mix arrives his brother Ryan and Ryan’s girlfriend Brooke. Also keeping things light, offering words of wisdom is the matriarch ( Sarai’s mother) Yai. It is 2004 and Christmas is almost around the corner. Patch’s brother has combined his holiday with a personal mission to help his brother but he goes about it the wrong way and their disagreement becomes isolating as his relationships seemingly fall apart . Sarai and her family deal with their own burdens as the author examines the complex relationships not only as a whole but as  individuals.   Once you figure out the timing of the story, it is easy to become aware of the life changing event about to take place.  The event was very personal to me, so I was practically holding my breath as I slowed my reading down and turned the pages,  I felt every wound and every tear. My hand over my mouth, I finished the book, mentally constructing another note to John Shors for creating such a marvelous piece of fiction. For those of us who knew of people affected, it is quite an emotional tugging, but take heart that the end felt like a proper goodbye rather than an abrupt leave – taking.  Well done John Shors! well done.